"Idolatry with Christianity"
Sid Meier's Civilization has always offered hilarious opportunities to destroy historical accuracy. Since the long-running strategy simulation uses real historical figures and locations, players can twist their agendas however they see fit, such as having Mahatma Gandhi launch nuclear strikes on a whim. The new expansion to Civilization V, Gods and Kings, offers the same amount of blasphemous customization to creating a religion. But that's just one of many new options given to Civ fans, and Gods and Kings is sure to coax another hundred or so hours of playtime from devoted gamers.
The Gods and Kings expansion adds two new features that were missed from Civilization 4; religion and espionage. Religion makes Faith a resource to be accumulated and utilized, similar to Culture in the core game. With a little bit of faith, you can establish a basic Pantheon, and the more you develop your religion, the more advantages you can acquire. For example, you can choose to worship gods of war that boost your troops' abilities, or gods of fertility that improve birth rate and expand your society. Mixing and matching traits successfully will create a faith that not only improves your civilization, but that creates a faith other cities will want to follow.
The other major addition that Gods and Kings has to offer is espionage, which allows you to plant agents in enemy cities and exert a secretive influence. Though your interaction with the spies is limited beyond giving them orders, they're very useful in such matters as making allegiances, rigging elections, stealing technologies, and destroying Metal Gears (okay, we can only wish about that last one). Like religion, espionage does not make Civ V into a fundamentally different game, but it supplements and expands upon the proven formulas. These aren't just token additions, but tools added by Firaxis to let players go even deeper into the design.
If that weren't enough, Firaxis also put several smaller bonuses into Gods and Kings. The expansion contains 27 new units, 13 new buildings, 9 new wonders, and 9 new civilizations (including Ethiopia, Byzantium, and the Celts). The existing diplomacy system has been enhanced and streamlined to suit the religion and espionage upgrades, and the city-states have been given an increased strategic importance. Most interestingly, there are new scenarios that task players with controlling a set society in rigged circumstances, including the Fall of Rome, the Renaissance, and an alternate universe steampunk scenario.
The best part about Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings is the cost: it's only $30 USD. Obviously, it's worthless if you don't already have Civilization V, and it's not likely to convert anyone who didn't already like the series. However, it gives far more length and content to what was already one of the deepest strategy games on the market. If you own the original Civilization V and don't get offended by founding Islam within America, this is a no-brainer.
GameDynamo's Score for Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings (PC)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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